London Fashion Week got underway in the capital this morning promoting a strong theme of diversity and the importance of forging stronger ties with China.
For the first time the event is sponsored by Chinese retailer VIP.com which will be helping British brands and designers to launch into the ever-expanding China market.
“The fashion market in China is extraordinarily sophisticated and fast paced, and hungry for new design talent,” said Jenny Jioe, Managing Director of Fashion at Vip.com as the event opened. “Our consumer is aware of London’s creative pedigree, and ready for both news and product. I know from first-hand experience that the brands in London, with all their energy and unbridled creativity, are precisely what we are looking for.”
Vip.com is one of China’s top three ecommerce retailers, with annual retail sales of $11.2bn, 57.8million active customers, over 335m orders in 2017, and eight individual international sourcing offices. In 2016 Forbes ranked Vip.com as No.2 in its top 100 companies with the highest growth.
British Fashion Council CEO Caroline Rush said the partnership with Vip.com would help those brands in London who want to crack the Chinese market but don’t have the marketing budgets to do so. “The nature of working with so many new businesses, is that they don’t have the advertising power of the global fashion brands,” she said.
“What they have is incredible products that a fashion-forward Chinese consumer is going to love. Our role is to shine a light on these businesses and work with our partners at Vip.com to introduce these brands to a highly engaged audience in China,” Rush added.
The British Fashion Council is also working with China’s largest retailer JD.com, which is sponsoring the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund prize for the first time this year. The shortlisted designers for the £200,000 prize and year-long mentorship was announced earlier this week.
Also at the event’s opening model and activist Adwoa Aboah was unveiled as the BFC’s new ambassador for positive fashion, diversity and model health. “Our objective is to become the most diverse fashion week – we are currently second behind New York. In September 2017 London had 31% representation of non-white models on the runway, which is above the national UK average representation of 15%, but we’d like it to be closer to London’s population average of 40%,” she said.
Aboah added that she wanted to ensure that diversity should not just stop at race “but include those of all body types, religion, sexuality and gender identification”.